What's the character breakdown?
2 women, 2 men (one of whom is trans).
How long is it?
It's a full-length play, 108 pages long. It plays at 2 hours with intermission.
Has it been produced?
Yes, one production by the Throughline Theatre Company in Pittsburgh in September 2016.
Has it won any awards?
Yes, it won the 2017 ATHE Award of Excellence in Playwriting and Throughline Theatre Company's 2016 Playwriting Competition.
What's it about?
Charlotte Coates, a government censor for a repressive country, thinks she is going to be elevated to a cabinet position but is instead shuttled away to be the censor for a far-flung territory. Charlotte takes out her anger about being tossed aside by hiring Nellis, a transgender artist (whose work has been censored), to paint her portrait. As she grows closer to him and his friends, an art gallery owner and his girlfriend, a censored author, Charlotte makes plans with them to escape the territory and expose the repressive regime. These rebels, however, grow more and more suspicious of her true motives and wonder if Charlotte has truly changed or if her past choices have doomed her future prospects.
Can I read a sample?
Contact me and I'd be happy to send you one.
Any critical response?
Sure. Mike Vargo of Entertainment Central Pittsburgh wrote:
"Every year, in cities and towns around the world, vast numbers of new plays are given “world premieres” by small theater companies. You never know what you’ll get with these plays, but a lot of them are pretty good. Sometimes you even hit the jackpot.
A friend and I attended the opening night of David L. Williams’ The Censor at Throughline Theatre. When the lights went up for intermission, my friend turned to me with a grin and said, “We’re going to be able to say we saw it first.”
Yes, The Censor is that good. Theater fans who are quick deciders will be the lucky ones, because the run is short (finishing this Thursday through Saturday, Sept. 22-24). And though the world-premiere version of the script has some flaws, they are outweighed by virtues that make the play an entertaining and thought-provoking gripper. Not to mention a play with so many memorable one-liners that you might suspect the playwright is channeling Oscar Wilde.
... This play is subtle even when it shouts, twisting back and forth on multiple levels. The cat-and-mouse intrigue is interwoven with some serious (and seriously funny) exploration of the worlds of art and bureaucracy.
Better yet, amid the clashing of issues, personal stories emerge—to the point that the play also becomes a character study, with characters who aren’t simple.
... We don’t know if our country will ever be the kind that bans such plays as The Censor. It seems unlikely. But very good plays can vanish from the scene just through the fickleness of fate, and neither do we know if The Censor will catch on to the extent where it is still being performed a century, or ten years, from today. I recommend seeing it now."
And Eva Phillips of PGH in the Round wrote:
"David L. Williams’ The Censor stiflingly and inventively captures the anxieties of living in a world in which the titular cultural overseer is omnipresent, feared and (seemingly) ruthless. The play, staged by the Throughline Theatre company in Lawrenceville’s intimate Greybox Theatre, is a disquieting but never off-putting telling of The Censor, Charlotte, as she visits an art gallery and takes a keen interest in the work of a radical visual artist, Nellis. Problematizing Nellis’ already perceivably incendiary art is the fact that Nellis is a transgendered man, which relegates him to a life of secrecy, castigation and intense discretion. Charlotte, however, is not all that her ostensible persona would seem—she expresses that she is willing to allow certain themes or artists deemed insidious by the Commonwealth—the loosely defined, but clearly strictly regimented government super-structure that dictates which art is permissible and what is passable as quality—slide and allow standards to be more flexible. Charlotte’s involvement with Nellis’ artistic world becomes more fascinatingly complicated as he agrees to commission a portrait of Charlotte to assuage her feelings of being disregarded by the patriarchal figures in the Commonwealth.
It is from this point that the evolution of Charlotte’s fierce humanity, especially in relation to the art and the dire need for personal expression that Nellis depends upon, that drive the rest of the dramaturgical action. The at first obfuscated but gradually revealed poignant sensitivity that permeates Charlotte’s spirit is what is truly evocative, as the play’s plot unfurls into one of artistic liberation at the hand of Charlotte’s machinations for the sake of undermining the Commonwealth’s regime. Maura Underwood is striking as the titular censor, establishing the appropriate amount of austerity and snarling authority in her first few scenes that makes her eventual vulnerability and conviction in later scene all the more heartfelt. A show filled with truly robust performances, the interactions between Nellis—a soft-spoken, delicately powerful Liam Ezra Dickinson—and Charlotte convey a certain viscera, a certain understanding of nuanced human relationships that they are remarkably worth remaking upon, as they carry the tension and suspense of the play.
The Censor is a play whose importance is obvious but never redundant or pedantic—the beautifully articulated trans narrative; the imperative role of art in society and the ramifications of the limitations on art; the wariness of overpowering government. Much of the power of the play and immense feeling of masterfully crafted anxiety comes in the casts subtle performances and the intimate setting of the theatre."
Any pictures of past productions?
Photos of the Throughline production below, courtesy of Rick Moore.
Has it been published?